This story is by Judy Blackburn and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The day I discovered the odd broom in the closet was only the beginning.
A few days ago, I bought this wonderful old house and planned to stay here for Halloween. I probably should have waited a day or two, Halloween not being my favorite holiday, but I was excited about living in my new home. I couldn’t wait to move in.
I shook the ancient dust out of draperies and let out a scream as a moth flew directly into my face. I stomped and screeched, my arms waving away the awful flying thing. Another one flapped its wings at me and I ran out the door. I sat on the porch steps and cried. I knew I had to face these monsters. This might be the hardest thing I’d done. Moths and creepy flying things give me the heebie-jeebies. As I sit here, I brush at my arms and hair feeling those wings. Cold sweat and goosebumps make me shiver.
Armed with a broom and cleaning cloth as weapons, ready to swing either or both at anything that moves, I step slowly through each room. Windows are open, allowing any creatures to find their own way out. My nerves calmed when I didn’t encounter any more moths. The ones I saw were dead, but to me, just as scary. I sweep them up and toss them in a bin, all the while trying to ignore the shuddering chills coursing through my body.
I’m on my own in this world, convinced this is the way my life will be. It’s not a fight anymore. I accept it and am thrilled with my new home, but I will not share it with any flying bugs.
Exploring my new surroundings is great fun. There’s a big yard out back with a stone patio. I look forward to fun moments with my coffee in the mornings gazing at the country surrounding my home. I especially love the fields and hills.
Inside, the kitchen is big and airy. I will bake a lot of goodies here to give to my co-workers during the holidays. It gives me joy to do this. This will definitely be my favorite room.
I open a small utility closet at one end of the kitchen to set my broom and cloth in. Another broom with a long handle and straw tied to it by a cord is leaning against the wall. It looks old fashion, too heavy to use in a normal sweeping job. It would take an enormous woman to heft the tool around. I’m not a large woman.
I store my small broom in the clamp attached to the closet and was shutting the door when the bigger broom moved. At least I think it moved. At first, I think my eyes blinked, and it was the sun sparkling through leaves swaying in a breeze outside my kitchen window.
I close my eyes, shake my head, and look again. The broom moved into the room. I stand frozen, not believing what I’m seeing. But there it is, balanced on its straw sweepers in the middle of my kitchen floor, standing on its own. It made a small dip, like asking for a dance.
I take a step back. Is the thing communicating with me?
My kitchen is the biggest room in the house, even bigger than the master bedroom. I wondered about that when I bought it. But as I mentioned, I love to cook and bake, so a gigantic kitchen fits my life. The blue-gray walls and high cupboards, along with the deep sink, make my farm kitchen perfect. There is plenty of granite counter space and a vast island with storage underneath.
As the broom dipped at me, it moved closer, like it is inviting me to take a hold of its handle. I’m not sure why, but I allowed my hand to touch the smooth wood. And immediately let go. The vibration and warmth give me the creeps.
It came close again and again I touched it. With a swoosh, the broom is under my butt, and I grab the handle to keep it from falling. It flies around the room with me screaming the entire time knowing I’m going to die. I hate flying in a plane, let alone around my kitchen riding a broom, of all things. The cupboards are a blur. We miss them by a mere micro-inch. The sink is next as we plunge downward, but again the broom’s flight pattern swoops close as we go on by.
Then as fast as it took into the air, the broom stopped, and I landed on my bottom in the middle of the floor. The broom lay near me, looking like a stick with a swatch of straw attached. Pretty harmless. I reached out tentatively. The warmth and vibration tingle up my arm. I pull my hands back and stuff them in my overall pockets.
This is unreal. Halloween night is here. This must be part of a prank of sorts. But there is no visible explanation. I wanted to put the broom away, and forget about it, but it stayed by my side. “Are you lonely?” I said out loud as if it could answer me. And why am I talking to a broom?
“I’m lonely as well. But I can’t be friends with a broom… can I?”
The broom follows me outside. It vibrates and bends towards me as I use it to sweep a few leaves off the stones of my patio. I’m right. It is too heavy and I only manage a few swipes. The sun sinks below the horizon and twilight sets in. A half-moon floats in the night sky. Suddenly the broom swishes underneath me and we take to the sky. This time, instead of being afraid of flying, my smile widens. I’m not afraid of flights anymore. The broom is my friend and I feel safe. This flying is actually fun. We swoosh around the dark skies. I wave at the stars and moon as we flit by like a hummingbird.
Instead of taking me back to the patio, we fly to a hill with a lone pine tree. Why is it stopping here? My shoulders shudder and goosebumps appear. “I don’t like this, broom. Please take me home.”
But the broom leans itself against the tree. “Broom? This isn’t fun anymore. What do you want?”
I get a sense of sadness from this piece of wood and swatch of straw. After all, it hasn’t harmed me, scared the bejeezus out of me, but it had been…, polite? Is that the right word? I put my hands on my hips and sigh. I push my long auburn hair behind my ears and try to think.
“I’m sorry. Have you been cursed?” I caress the smooth handle of the broom. “I wish I could help. No one deserves a curse. You can stay in my closet. We can fly around on Halloween? Will any of this help?”
At my words, the broom fades into a mist. A swirling comes from behind the tree and a man walks out of the fog. He’s about my age, late thirties. He’s dressed in jeans and a blue shirt with a black coat, looking like a cowboy out of a western movie. His blond hair shines in the moonlight like a beacon. He holds his hands out to me. “Please, don’t run. You’ve shown friendship, and it’s broken the spell.”
I try to say something, but nothing comes out of my mouth. The man touches my arm, and I jerk away. He stands still and is quiet. Waiting.
I hold my arms around me. “Okay,” I said. “My friendship freed you from a spell?”
“At last. I thought it would never happen. An evil witch put a curse on me when I spurned her advances. I’ve tried to make friends throughout the years, but you’re the first who gave me a chance. I’m forever grateful. What’s your name? I’m Lance.”
I take his offered hand. The tingle is still there, but this time it’s not creepy. It’s a warm, human hand. “My name’s Angie.” We walk back to my patio. “Does this mean there won’t be any more flights around my kitchen?”
He grins at that and shrugs, “Reckon so.”
What a Halloween this turned out to be. I think I like this holiday, after all.
Lori Crispo says
Love the fairy tale aspect of your story, Judy! It’s fun haunting!